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US gives Turkey 31 July ultimatum to cancel S-400 missile order

The Russian S-400 could be the latest addition to Turkey's arsenal [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 June, 2019

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The US has set Turkey a deadline for cancelling an order of the S-400 anti-aircraft system.
The US on Friday gave Turkey until the end of July to cancel a deal made with Russia to purchase the S-400 missile defence system, following months of tensions between the two NATO allies.

Washington argues that the Russian system is incompatible with Ankara's participation in the F-35 fighter jet programme and given Turkey until 31 July to end plans to buy the missile system from Moscow.

If Ankara does not cancel the controversial deal by that date, Turkish pilots currently training in the US on the F-35 will be expelled.

The US also threatened to cancel agreements with Turkish firms sub-contracted for manufacturing the F-35 stealth warplane, Ellen Lord, Under-secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment, told reporters on Friday.

The two-month deadline "will allow sufficient time for Turkish personnel associated with the F-35 programme to be reassigned and depart the United States... to facilitate an orderly cessation of Turkish participation".

Lord said the US ultimatum was justified as Turkey, a NATO ally, had already sent its personnel to Russia to start training with the S-400.

The move follows an announcement by state-owned defence conglomerate Rostec on Friday that the S-400 would be delivered to Moscow in two months.

"Everything is on track with the Turks. I hope that we will begin to deliver in about two months," Sergei Chemezov head of Rostec said on Friday, according to AFP.

Read also: US-Turkey tensions reach boiling point over Russia rocket saga

"The credit money has been spent, the technology was produced. And we completed training of all the military personnel," he said.

On Tuesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was "determined" to go ahead with the deal, despite the anger it had sparked in Washington.

US officials believe Turkey will opt for the American Patriot system instead, arguing that would allow the F-35 programme to continue with Ankara planning to buy 100 of the next-generation jets.

Erdogan has said on Tuesaday that Turkey would only buy Patriots if Washington's conditions of delivery were as positive as Moscow's.

"But unfortunately we haven't received a positive proposal from the American side on the subject of Patriots like the S-400s from Russia," he said.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he had sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar informing him of Washington's decision.

The US offer for the Patriots was "very competitive," Shanahan told reporters.

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